Donovan Mitchell fueled the early offense, almost by himself at times. The All-Star guard scored 11 points in the first quarter. He added six more in the second to have 17 at the half but the Jazz trailed 51-50 at the break nevertheless.
Utah’s jump-shooters, aside from Mitchell, were simply cold in the first half. Mike Conley went just 2-for-7 from the field, Jordan Clarkson was 2 of 8, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Rudy Gay were both 1 of 4. Altogether, Utah’s non-Mitchell perimeter players made just 6 of 26 (23.1 percent) field goal attempts and 3 of 16 (18.8) 3-point attempts.
Those offensive inefficiencies completely went away in a second half that saw the Jazz outscore the Wizards 73-47. The first-half field goal percentage of 40.4 percent climbed to 51.6 by the end of the night.
The third quarter pull-away didn’t happen immediately out of the halftime break. As late as the 6:30 mark of the third, the game was still tied (63-63) and with 4:30 left in the quarter Utah led only by three points. Over those last four-and-a-half minutes, though, the Jazz went on a roll.
Led by a pair of baskets and an assist from Mitchell, Utah went on a 13-4 run to close the third quarter and take an 81-69 lead into the final period. The run kept going into the fourth with Utah outscoring the Wizards 19-6 over a period of about six minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters. At that point the Jazz simply kept their foot on the gas until garbage time.
The two stars on the night were, to little surprise, Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Mitchell had 28 points on the night despite sitting most of the fourth quarter (he had 26 by the end of the third). Mitchell, not far removed from winning Player of the Week, is averaging 30.8 points over his last six games. He’s shot 54.4 percent in those games, 44.2 percent from three.
Gobert put up 20 points and 11 rebounds, his 10th 20/10 game of the season (four of those 20/10 games are Gobert getting 20 rebounds and at least 10 points).
Defensively, the Jazz held down the fort against Bradley Beal. The All-NBA guard had 21 points but needed 19 shots to get to that total. Spencer Dinwiddie also struggled on the night with just 12 points on 13 shots.
The Jazz were troubled a few times by Daniel Gafford, especially in the first half. Gafford scored eight of his 12 points in the opening half and hauled in four offensive boards. Several times he followed up missed shots when Gobert or Hassan Whiteside were occupied by the shot they’d just forced a miss on.
Speaking of Whiteside, he had his second consecutive double-double off the bench with 18 points, 14 rebounds. He and Willy Hernangomez are the only two players this season with back-to-back double-doubles off the bench. Whiteside is tied with Montrezl Harrell for most double-doubles off the bench his season.